Moral language and advocacy

I feel that using moral language can really help influence peoples’ thoughts about genocide and refugee issues. The language has a distinct way of being overtly emotional, tugging at people’s heartstrings. From reading the text I found that language is critical for advocates to persuade their audience and viewers to what they are advocating. Advocates against genocide and refugee issues are able to influence their audience by using emotional pleas and troubling images that cause people to feel sorry for those that are victims of genocide.

I have found that advocates use two different types of moral vernacular to help with their advocacy campaigns: thick and thin. Both are based around human rights, or moral principles that create standards for human behavior. A thick moral vernacular, however focus more on the virtues of human rights rather than the principles themselves. This type of rhetoric employs people to inspire allegiance and support through people’s language and culture. This form is seen to be for the powerless whereas a thin moral vernacular is used mainly for those in power. A thin form transforms the human right principles into discourse, giving people the rights to interpretation and constant revision.

As Westerners, we heavily focus on the emotional aspects of a story and enlarge to help others acknowledge their presence. And I feel especially with victims of genocide and the hardships of refugee life, advocates are able to dive into the pathos region of rhetoric to help influence American citizens to donate or help their cause to save the lost children, give food and water, etc. We want to be able to sympathize with the victims and let them know that we are here to help. This comes hand in hand to the idea of universalism, in which most Americans have the understanding that every person should have the same equal human rights regardless of their race, gender, etc. Having this understanding allows advocates to use these emotional languages to help clearly identify that these oppressed and damaged people need our help and would do the same if we were in their situation (at least we could hope).

I feel that a disadvantage to this use of advocacy could be that sometimes emotionalism can become overbearing and too much to handle. If an advocate only uses emotional language in their speeches and programs, it could create a sense of overbearing or unpleasantness. This could cause people to completely tune out the speakers as they’ve heard it all before as well as causing people to feel that the advocates don’t think that they (the people) don’t really care about the situation at hand. Overall, advocates should be weary of the amount of emotional language that put forth into their stance.

Genocide and refugee issues are touchy and intense subjects to advocate. Not many people want to know the things that are happening in third world countries far away from the United States, but we have to understand that these horrible murders are happening everyday. By using moral vernacular to help people to become involved with your advocacy stance is an effective piece to the overall program. By allowing people to know that we all should have a universal right as a human to be free can create more followers to help effectively change the way people view genocide and the issues of the refugees.

-Joshua

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